Big 12 divisions unsettled going into final week of football
Tuesday, November 23, 2010
Texas A&M still has a longshot chance to get into the Big 12 championship game. Coach Mike Sherman isn’t concerning himself with how that could happen.
“I don’t get into all the math and probabilities,” Sherman said Monday.
Both divisions of the Big 12 remain unsettled headed into the final week of the regular season, the last before significant changes in the league.
There could be a threeway tie in the South division, and an anticipated farewell appearance by Nebraska in the Big 12 championship game could be derailed.
The 17th-ranked Aggies (8-3, 5-2 Big 12), who could be part of three-way tie in the South, are coming off a 9-6 victory over Nebraska that prevented the No. 16 Cornhuskers (9-2, 5-2) from clinching the North title before it heads to the Big Ten next season.
Nebraska is home Friday to play Colorado (5-6, 2-5), which has won consecutive games since coach Dan Hawkins was fired.
“This week is the next challenge for us,” Cornhuskers coach Bo Pelini said during the Big 12 coaches weekly teleconference. “It just turns out there’s a lot on the line.”
If the Cornhuskers lose and 15th-ranked Missouri beats archrival Kansas, the Tigers would go to the Big 12 championship game.
“We’re not really going to talk about that,” Missouri coach Gary Pinkel said. “We’re much better off just focusing on Kansas itself, and take all the other stuff completely out and put our preparation on this game.”
Texas A&M goes into its Thanksgiving night rivalry game at Texas knowing if it wins its sixth consecutive game, and then Oklahoma beats Oklahoma State two nights later, there will be a three-way tie atop the South Division.
“The most important thing for us is to worry about the University of Texas and playing a great game,” Sherman said. “I’d be pretty proud of our team if we could win Thursday night. ... After that, we’ll just see what happens, see what they tell us we can do.”
No. 10 Oklahoma State (10-1, 6-1) wins the South title outright if the Cowboys can break a seven-game losing streak in the Bedlam rivalry against No. 14 Oklahoma (9-2, 5-2).
The Sooners are coming off a 53-24 victory at Baylor, getting an impressive road win after losing their previous two games away from home.
“The bottom line is we played well, players made plays when they had opportunities,” coach Bob Stoops said. “We’ve done that the last couple of weeks, so our confidence is great right now. Our guys feel really good about what they’re doing and excited about the opportunity that’s in front of them.”
In the case of a three-way tie in the South, the BCS standings would determine which team goes to the Big 12’s last scheduled championship game Dec. 4 at Cowboys Stadium in Arlington, Texas.
The highest-ranked team most likely would go to the title game in that scenario. But if the top two Big 12 South teams are back-to-back in the BCS standings next Sunday, the winner of the head-tohead matchup for those teams would go.
That is a tweak to the league’s tiebreaker since 2008 after Oklahoma, Texas and Texas Tech all finished the regular season with one loss. The Sooners went to the Big 12 championship game because they were No. 2 in the BCS standings, a spot ahead of Texas, which had beaten Oklahoma in the regular season.
This time, that would favor the winner of the Bedlam rivalry since Oklahoma State is ninth in the current BCS standings and Oklahoma 13th. Texas A&M is 17th.
With the Big 12 dropping to 10 teams next season, there will be a round-robin schedule with no divisional play. No tiebreaker, no league championship game.
Nebraska’s game at home against Colorado is the Big 12 farewell game for the teams leaving the conference after this season. The Buffaloes are joining the expanded Pac-10.
The Big 12 is guaranteed eight bowl spots, and already has eight bowl-eligible teams.
Two more teams are trying to get to their sixth wins in regular season finales. And both — Colorado and Texas — could impact the division races in the process.
Texas will finish at the bottom of the Big 12 South standings for the first time in the league’s 15 seasons. The Longhorns could tie Texas Tech (6-5, 3-5) for fifth place, or finish in sixth alone.
A six-win Texas team would still be attractive for a bowl, and the Longhorns are in no position to be picky where they might go a year after playing in the BCS national championship game.
“If we can do our job Thursday night, there’s absolutely no doubt that we’ll be excited to go wherever,” coach Mack Brown said. “There’s no such thing as a bad bowl.”